The more that media dominates business communication, the more people crave leaders who are compelling when face-to-face. Whatever the context, there's no hiding when you are live. Whether you're at the front of the room for a meeting, speaking at a panel, giving a TED talk, or making a speech, you have to hit a home run in front of the audience. Otherwise your time and theirs will be wasted and your message will be lost.
Whether you're trying to be the next Tony Robbins, or you're a mid-level manager trying to communicate better with your team, you need be able to deliver an effective presentation. If you want to reach and maintain a long career in a C-suite, here are a few tips sure to make your delivery more compelling:
1. Good: You have a slide deck.
This is an example of where the lines blur between the four main types of communication: text, audio, visual, and live. Even though you're giving a live presentation, it's often important to use materials that are visual and/or text-based to help illustrate your point. Remember that your deck should be visually consistent, useful, and not have too many words.
Great: You use tailored, compelling visual aids.
Use a slide deck if you want, but don't assume you have to use one every time. Sometimes less is more. One powerful picture or graphic might bring the same value as a whole deck, if that single item illustrates your point and makes it memorable.
2. Good: You're enthusiastic.
Make sure you practice your delivery. It's important to use appropriate - and an appropriate amount of - hand gestures as you speak. You have to vary your facial expression, and try not to scowl. And of course, you don't want to sound like a monotone robot - you have to have some inflection in your voice to express what you're trying to convey.
Great: Your whole body keeps the audience's attention and helps illustrate your point.
Great speakers do all that and more. They're visibly excited, without being jittery or distracting. They can illustrate their point physically, either with hand gestures, body language, or moving around on stage. If they use a visual aid, they engage with it to ensure the audience gets the full value from it.
3. Good: You don't stare at the screen, or read off the page.
It's amazing how many people think it's ok not to know what's in their deck. Take ownership of your material so you can share it with the audience. Otherwise you may as well just send them the material. Since an audience usually retains only about 10% by listening to a lecture, better they should read it without you being an unnecessary distraction.
Great: You make an emotional connection through storytelling and eye contact.
If you want to boost that 10% retention rate, you need to offer an awesome experience. Fulfill the need, entertain, and bring the unexpected. Tell stories that are fun and compelling to illustrate your point. Your audience may not remember your name, but they will remember the person in the story that made them laugh, cry, or just feel something.